Monday, March 24, 2014

Right and Wrong Ways to Combat Prejudice

Years of research have lead psychologist Carol S. Dweck, PhD to potent, yet unsurprising study. Through countless tests, she has proven that all forms of negative thought can be combated effectively by accepting that we can change. Out of students, those who thought their past success was the byproduct of their time and effort were more likely to take on more challenges in the future than those who believed their talents were a priori, or innate. This growth-oriented look at behavior empowered them to open doors that they had never opened before. Those fielded who believed they were merely born racist, prejudiced, dumb or other negative connotations had a proclivity to stay that way and lacked the means to change. This because obvious when talking especially about bullies. Students who were taught that "bullies will always be bullies" were far less likely to forgive them and instead opted for revenge. The students who adopted an open-mind and were told that these people could change were far less likely to pursue retribution for the others bad behavior. Believing in change made people act less prejudiced themselves, where as the opposite was true for those who thought personality and abilities were "fixed." This psychology has promising implications for the reduction of prejudice in intergroup contact. 

 After being forced to sit through a mandatory awareness presentation on a military base, supervisors were reported as holding increased negative attitudes about race. Just sitting through the presentation alone presented them the facts about racial tolerance yet without any context, "the facts didn't speak for themselves." They leaders thought the program was an attempt at manipulation and "propaganda", which made them resentful more than anything else. Forcing ideas of tolerance is never the right way to reduce prejudice because without the proper circumstance there is ample opportunity for it to backfire. 

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